Blaine AA peewee hockey team beat Sibley A 6-4 in the first game of pool play at the New Hope Peewee A Invitational Tourney played last night at the New Hope Ice Arena. It was an outstanding game and sets up a potential championship game between NOW #2 ranked Lakeville South and #26 ranked Blaine.
Blaine’s better then NOW’s #26 ranking. They are an alligator in NOW’s peewee AA rankings. They will rise quickly and “snap up” a few unsuspecting teams along the way. Sibley is ranked #3 in NOW’s peewee A rankings. The Warriors are also improving, but are at the top of the NOW A pool and can’t be an alligator.
One way to look at last night’s game is view the game as a battle of the 12’s, #12’s that is. Both teams have a number of outstanding skaters, and both rely on a big center. Both centers wear #12. Both #12′s drive their team’s style of play.
For Sibley, #12 Brandon McFadden drove the Sibley offense in the first two thirds of the game. For Blaine, #12 Soren Frakie drove the Blaine offense especially in the last half of the game. It was the battle of the 12’s and Blaine won.
Sibley came out storming in the first period. The forwards circled the Blaine net much of the first period. All the Warriors were skating well. They pushed the Bengals and for the first time this year (that YHH) saw, the Blaine peewees upped their skating and kept pace from the start. And the Bengals struck back.
Sibley opened the first period of play by scoring in the first two minutes. The Warriors had dominated the opening minutes with a series of slashing attacks on the Bengals’ net. At the 10 minute mark, an attack resulted in the puck ending up behind the Bengal net on a Warrior stick at the end boards to the left of the Blaine goal. A quick pass to the slot and a one timer by Chase Crocker put Sibley up 1-0. Joesph Gimberlain and Nicholas Castro got the assists.
At the 9 minute mark of the first period, Blaine began to gain more and more control of the play in the Sibley’s zone. The Bengals started to establish sustained pressure, blocking the Warrior breakout attempts and getting good scoring opportunities.
But Blaine could not block Sibley every time. At the 6 minute mark, the Warriors beat the Bengal defense and attacked on a nice 2-on-1 rush with the wing hitting the forward in the slot again to put Sibley up 2-0. Grant Heselton got the goal; Hans Heck and Luke Herzog got the assists.
It was a fast paced and extremely cleanly played game. As a result there were few stoppages. There were only three penalties called, all against Sibley. The first one came with 5 minutes to go in the first period. That penalty call changed the tone of the game.
The Warriors forwards were using speed and passing to dominate play in the Bengals zone. The Bengals played a more aggressive physical game, but it was a solid game. Once in the Warriors’ zone, Blaine would use their strength to move the Sibley players off the puck. It is a simple strategy. First man in takes the man off the puck (ignores the puck) and the second man in takes the puck.
Sibley’s cross checking penalty at the 5 minute mark altered the game, the Warriors lost their lead and the game became a game either team could win.
The Warriors survived the most of the Bengal Power play. With 22 seconds left in the penalty kill, Blaine’s Frackie picked up the puck off a faceoff just outside the Sibley blue line center. Frackie skated right stepping inside the Sibley defender and let the shot go from the top of the right faceoff circle beating the Sibley goalie. It was the only power play goal of the game.
Just like that, Sibley’s lead was cut to 2-1.
Twenty second later, it was a tied game. Blaine continued their attack, taking the puck low into the Sibley zone after the center faceoff. The Bengals worked the puck left to right behind the Sibley net to the right face off circle for a one timer into the Sibley goal from the right slot. The game was tied 2-2. Stone Stetzi got the goal; Ben Olson got the assist.
A minute later, Sibley scored. The Warriors worked puck deep and hit the slot with a pass for one timer into the net. Chase Foley got the score, McFadden got the assist. Both teams, offensively, were “cooking”. Sibley led 3-2 as the first period ended.
In the first period, both teams controlled the puck in their opponents’ zone. Sibley had the edge in offense, Blaine the edge in defense. Sibley seemed to be on the verge of controlling the game until they drew the penalty at the 5 minute mark.
The second period flew by. There were few stoppages and no penalties call. The pace was fast and both teams played well.
At the 7 minute mark, Blaine took a page from Sibley’s playbook. The Bengals scored from the slot off a neat pass. This time the Bengals’ Bryce Brodzinski got the goal; Nick Hauck got the assist. The score was tied 3-3 with 7 minutes to go in the second period.
Two minutes later, the Bengals Brodzinski scored again to give Blaine a 4-3. This time Hauck and McFadden got the assists. The Bengals were beginning to beat the Sibley defense in the “races to the puck”. Offensively, the game was starting to tilt to the Bengals.
The second period ended with Blaine ahead 4-3.
In the opening minute of the third period, the Bengals scored to put the game away. The goal came after the Bengals dumped the puck into the right corner. A Bengal forward chased the puck down and moved it to another Bengal to the right of the net. He made a quick pass to a third Bengal in the right faceoff who put the puck in the net with a quick shot. Stetzi scored his second goal of the game and Olson got the assist. It was the second time they combined to score in the game.
Bengals led 5-3. Sibley could not recover.
Still the Warriors came back at the 7 minute mark to cut the lead to 5-4 on a deflection and tried to make it a game. William Pope scored the goal for the Warriors, Castro got his second assist of the game. Bhe Warriors could not sustain pressure in the Bengals zone in the third period. They still had scoring chances, but they could not beat the Blaine defense.
The Bengals continued to play great offensively and, in effect, bottled up the Warrior forwards.
Blaine’s Luke Johnson scored the Bengals final goal, an empty netter, in the last minute of play to end the scoring. Blaine won 6-4.
Both #12’s set the style of play for their teams. McFadden used his size and skill to finesse the puck through tough situations and used his strength to steady his plays. Frackie used his strength to move into position and often using his body to move an opponent to clear himself. Once clear, he would use his shooting and puck handling skills to score or pass to set up a score.
Both teams emulated the play of their #12. Sibley’s forwards need to improve on game situations, they always tried hit the slot with a pass first and Blaine’s defense adjusted. They gave the Warrior puck carriers space by clogging the slot area.
It was the fastest paced game at the peewee AA/A level that YHH has seen in the past month. That is a good sign for both teams as the season turns to the playoffs.
But last night in the New Hope tourney, Blaine won the war of attrition.